During overhead press we need to shrug our shoulders at the top of the movement. Apparently its for creating space for rotator cuff tendons.

As the exercise description on stronglifts says--

Shrug your traps at the top. This creates space between your upper-arm and AC joint for your rotator cuff tissues. No shrugging is no space is shoulder impingement.

My question is,should we keep our shoulder shrugged during overhead carries too,considering that both the press and carry are similar movements at least for the shoulder girdle.

I didn't find any information on the position of shoulders in overhead carries on net.

If shrugging shouldn't be done,then what's the optimal position for doing an overhead carry?

1 Answer 1


My general experience for this is yes, keep those shoulders shrugged.

For almost all cases where weight is being locked out overhead, keeping those shoulders shrugged becomes more about safety than anything else. Yes, shrugging will engage the traps, but also helps bring the shoulders back into the vertical plane (think of bringing the shoulders back, or a cue I often use for my athletes is "head through the arms").

Warning: Anatomy involved: By shrugging, you'll help raise the scapula exposing the Glenoid (shoulder socket) upward creating a pocket for the Hummerus to sit in. And further by bringing the shoulders back places the weight in line with your center of balance. Without this, the skeleton is taken out of the equation relying on the joints and tendons to hold and stabilize the weight. This will put unnecessary strain increasing your chances of injury.

Think of two types of athletes that require to hold overhead positions: Gymnasts and Olympic Lifters. Look up any image and you will notice the gymnast's shoulders are in line with their backs (not pushing forward like would for overhead presses). Olympic lifters are often noticeable with their heads punching forward which opens their chest and bringing the shoulders back.

Lastly, if you have any difficulty with mobility holding the weight in an active shrug, then work on that before even attempting to hold weight overhead for any period of time.

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